In court with Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning file picture There has been wide criticism of the conditions of Manning's confinement

FORT MEADE MARYLAND - US Army analyst Bradley Manning has appeared in court on the first day of a hearing to decide whether he will face trial over allegations he leaked huge amounts of secret information to Wikileaks.

It is the first time since his arrest that Private Bradley Manning has been seen in public.

He's flanked on one side by his civilian lawyer, and on the other by two military lawyers. He's small, bespectacled and sits quietly listening. He briskly answers a few routine questions about whether he understands his rights and is happy with his lawyer: "Yes, sir," he replies.

This hearing, which could go on for a week, is to establish whether there is enough of a case to go to a full court-martial.

But curiously the case opened not with the accused, but with a cross-examination of the investigating officer, Lt Col Paul Almanza.

Private Manning's defence council, David Coombs, has said the softly-spoken reservist should withdraw from the case, saying "the investigating officer is biased".

The lawyer's argument is that the officer is a former military judge and now works for the civilian government as a prosecutor for the Department of Justice, which has its own case against Pte Manning.

Lt Col Almanza accepted all the prosecution's witnesses, but turned down all but two of the 38 witnesses for the defence. Pte Manning's lawyer says that means he can't prove his case, and that his client's actions caused few real problems.

"Where's the damage? Where's the harm?" he asked, turning around in the courtroom, arms held wide in a gesture familiar from many a courtroom drama.

The presiding officer has ordered a recess, which he says could last a while. I doubt whether the defence lawyer really has high hopes of getting a more favourable investigating officer, one who will dismiss the case, deeming it not worthy of a court-martial.

Instead, it seems he is making his case to the world that this is not a fair trial.

Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    It seems obvious that the US military is determined to hang, draw and quarter Mr Manning.

    He is being treated in a cruel and unusual manner.

    President Obama has already said that he, "Broke the law."

    What can he possibly have of a fair trial?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Some people believe in Truth and Justice
    Others believe in covering up denying Corruption or revert to suicide
    America and Israel and their Agents must questionably 2 of the most active dangerous least transparent covert Government regimes with shady secrets on this planet currently in power as a threat with their trigger happy warmongering weapons technologies and hawkish tendencies

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Good luck to Bardley Manning's defense team, I hope they win and Bradley is freed.

    I have supported the Bradley Manning defense team with funds, I wonder if that means that I am supporting an "enemy" of the US and, should I land on US soil, be indefinatly detailed by the US military in Gitmo.

    I'd rather not find out so I have banned myself from travelling to the United States of Terror.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Manning has done nothing wrong, everyone knows all about the USAs covert ops and long history of false flag terrorism (including 9/11) however, it seems that julian assange, like osama bin laden, is another asset formed by the CIA as a pretext to censoring the internet, which will eventually happen!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Considering that President Obama is about to sign a defense bill that will make the indefinite holding of Americans suspected of terrorism without a trial legal, Manning is lucky he even has a trial at all

    After this bill is signed, suspected terrorists, whether American or otherwise, will not have the right to a trial in the USA


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